Afghanistan wins global support pledges

LONDON (Pajhwok): British Prime Minister David Cameron, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday pledged stout support for the administration of President Ashraf Ghani.

The US remained committed to investment in Afghanistan and creating a powerhouse region, Kerry told participants of the London Conference. Ghani would be able to build a strong and prosperous Afghanistan, he hoped.

In his speech at the event, co-hosted by the UK and Afghan governments, President Ghani sought guarantees that the world would continue to invest after the withdrawal of foreign combat forces by the end of December.

He promised to continue implementing his reform agenda. “History will not be repeated, we've overcome our past," he said, seeking endorsement of his strategy for the transformation decade from 2015 to 2024.

Sworn in as president in September, the former World Bank economist voiced optimism that his country would overcome its challenges. "We hope we will never need direct combat support because the last thing we want is more blood…Peace is a top priority for us."

Congress would be asked to approve extraordinary levels of new aid through 2017, Kerry said, adding they would never allow the use of Afghanistan as a safe haven for terrorists. "The most effective way to advance this objective is to support Afghanistan's political unity and security."

As the president called for continued financial aid to his impoverished nation and vowed to pursue a strategy of self-reliance, including tackling corruption and improving governance, the British prime minister assured him: "We will be with you every step of the way."

Ghani outlined the steps he has already taken to deliver on his ambitious agenda to reform Afghanistan and deliver economic security by tackling corruption, maintaining the progress made on national security and protecting women’s rights.

The US secretary of state lauded Ghani and Abdullah for their united vision for Afghanistan's development."We are confident the policies outlined today will result in a more stable, prosperous Afghanistan. This is really an extraordinary moment...”

On the occasion, the Pakistani prime minister delineated a nine-point plan for Afghanistan's development, focused on strengthening regional economic links. "Pakistan remains in strong solidarity with the people of Afghanistan."

He called for a comprehensive and enduring partnership between Pakistan and Afghanistan, pledging the scourge of terrorism would be fought as a common enemy.

Delegates from more than 50 countries attended the international conference, which provided a platform for the Afghan government to set out its vision for reform and for the international community to show enduring solidarity.

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said in his opening remarks: "We meet at a time when Afghanistan is entering a new chapter in its history, the start of a transformation decade, where it will take the lead in managing its own development and security."


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